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My Mother’s Face

My mother takes out her false teeth
and her face collapses.
She is someone else’s Bubbe now,
with huge, sad eyes,
gumming words as if they are chicken bones.

I have seen my mother without her teeth
as if teeth are the tent poles that hold the shape of the world.
Under the tarp of pleated flesh
is the whole dark sky, simmering nebulae.

My mother takes out her false teeth
and I fall tlirough the wrinkled flap of her skin.
Someday I will be one of the old Jewish women
who sat in lawn chairs on the edge of the sidewalk in Brooklyn
watching me build anthills in the cracked cement.

I have seen my mother without her face.
Everything I thought I was will fall away.

My mother will be young and beautiful again.
She takes out her stars. Her mouth is filled with light.
Beneath the dome of her skull
is the axis of this fragile world.

Cassandra Sagan has worked as a Poet in the Schools since 1984 and writes and performs original music for adults and children. She says she specializes in “ukulele midrash.”